Female Spies—Real and Imagined

Let the female spies on this list of nonfiction and novels sneak up on you with their tales of action, adventure, and espionage.

Through history, female spies have taken their place as shrewd operators who have practiced their craft in such important settings as World Wars One, Two, and the American and English Civil Wars. Surely they were active in ancient times as well! We hope you will enjoy reading about these fascinating women who lived such interesting lives and found themselves in situations which brought them to the brink of death at times! This list contains a combination of fiction and non-fiction titles.

Digital book (DB, DBC), braille (BR), and large print (LT) copies of these titles are available from the Perkins Library or the Worcester Talking Book Library. Please contact the library to order any of these books.

Prepared by Linda Rossman


Perkins Library

Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy

by Ben Macintyre

DB 100631, Available as BARD Download

A true-life spy account of the life and exploits of a woman code-named “Sonya.” A high-ranking Soviet intelligence officer, she was hunted by the Chinese, the Japanese, the Nazis, MI5, MI6, and the FBI. The author draws on Sonya’s diaries and correspondence to trace her role in international politics. 2020.

Download Agent Sonya, DB 100631

Alias Emma

by Ava Glass

DB 110058 (in process), BR 24599 (in process)

Nothing about Emma Makepeace is real. Not even her name. A newly minted secret agent, Emma’s barely graduated from basic training when she gets the call for her first major assignment. Eager to serve her country and prove her worth, she dives in headfirst. Emma must covertly travel across one of the world’s most watched cities to bring the reluctant—and handsome—son of Russian dissidents into protective custody, so long as the assassins from the Motherland don’t find him first. But when Emma’s handler goes dark, there’s no one left to trust. And just one wrong move will get them both killed. 2022.

All the Daring of the Soldier: Women of the Civil War Army

by Elizabeth D. Leonard

DB 52080, available as BARD Download

Chronicle of women who served in the Union and Confederate armies in the field during the Civil War, either as spies, “mascots,” or disguised as men. Explores the motivation behind the women’s actions, the practical aspects involved, and the consequences of discovery. Also looks at earlier examples from the Revolutionary War. 1999.

Download All the Daring of the Soldier, DB 52080

The Ambassador’s Daughter

by Pam Jenoff

DB 77230, BR 20098, Available as BARD Download

After World War I Margot Rosenthal accompanies her father, a German diplomat, to a peace conference in Paris. Margot, whose wounded fianceÌ is recuperating at home, unwittingly becomes involved in espionage and falls in love. Prequel to The Kommandant’s Girl (DB 77659, BR 17687). Some descriptions of sex. 2013.

Download The Ambassador’s Daughter, DB 77230

Download Braille, The Ambassador’s Daughter, BR 20098

The Betrayal of the Blood Lily

by Lauren Willig

DB 70769, Available as BARD Download

Eloise’s research of British spies during the Napoleonic Wars reveals Penelope Deveraux, an Englishwoman forced to marry Lord Frederick Staines and relocate to India. Penelope meets Captain Alex Reid and the two are drawn into a treasonous plot involving a Frenchman known as the Marigold. Some descriptions of sex. 2010.

Download The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, DB 70769

A Cool and Lonely Courage: The Untold Story of Sister Spies in Occupied France

by Susan Ottaway

DB 80313, Available as BARD Download

The true story of sisters Eileen and Jacqueline Nearne, who were British special agents during the Second World War. Jacqueline was a courier for the French Resistance. Eileen, who was posted to Nazi-occupied France to send encoded messages for the Allies, was captured and tortured by the Nazis before escaping. 2014.

Download A Cool and Lonely Courage, DB 80313

Churchill’s Secret Messenger: A WW2 Novel of Spies & the French Resistance

by Alan Hlad

DB 109790 (in process)

Since her parents were killed in a bombing raid, Rose Teasdale has spent more hours than usual in Room 60, the cramped bunker in Winston Churchill’s Cabinet War Rooms. Winning the war is the only thing that matters, and she will gladly do her part. And when Rose’s fluency in French comes to the attention of Churchill himself, it brings a rare yet dangerous opportunity. Rose is recruited for the Special Operations Executive, a secret British organization that conducts espionage in Nazi-occupied Europe. After weeks of grueling training, Rose parachutes into France with a new codename: Dragonfly. 2021.

D-Day Girls: The Spies Who Armed the Resistance, Sabotaged the Nazis, and Helped Win World War II

by Sarah Rose

DB 94883, LT 26553, Available as BARD Download

An account of the British Special Operations Executive’s recruitment of women during World War II to serve as spies in France. Draws on declassified files, diaries, and oral histories to profile three of these women: a young mother, an unflappable aristocrat, and the streetwise organizer of the Paris Resistance. 2019.

Download D-Day Girls, DB 94883

The English Girl

by Daniel Silva

DB 77265, LT 15501, Available as BARD Download

Art restorer and ex-Israeli spy Gabriel Allon is once again called out of retirement. This time he is tasked with finding Madeline Hart, the British prime minister’s secret lover, who was kidnapped while vacationing on the island of Corsica. Some violence and some strong language. Bestseller. 2013.

Download The English Girl, DB 77265

A Guest of the Reich: The Story of American Heiress Gertrude Legendre and her Dramatic Captivity and Daring Escape from Nazi Germany

by Peter Finn

DB 97930, Available as BARD Download

An account of American heiress Gertrude “Gertie” Legendre’s involvement in the OSS, the wartime spy organization that preceded the CIA. Describes her capture by the Germans, subsequent interrogation, and eventual escape to Switzerland. 2019.

Download A Guest of the Reich, DB 97930

The Invisible Woman

by Erika Robuck

DB 108533, LT 29812, Available as BARD Download

France, March 1944. Virginia Hall wasn’t like the other young society women back home in Baltimore–she never wanted the debutante ball or silk gloves. Instead, she traded a safe life for adventure in Europe, and when her beloved second home is thrust into the dark days of war, she leaps in headfirst. Once she’s recruited as an Allied spy, subverting the Nazis becomes her calling. But even the most cunning agent can be bested, and in wartime trusting the wrong person can prove fatal. Virginia is haunted every day by the betrayal that ravaged her first operation, and will do everything in her power to avenge the brave people she lost. While her future is anything but certain, this time more than ever Virginia knows that failure is not an option. Especially when she discovers what–and whom–she’s truly protecting. 2021.

Download The Invisible Woman, DB 108533

The Lost Girls of Paris

by Pam Jenoff

DB 94677, LT 25406, Available as BARD Download

Manhattan, 1946. Grace Healey discovers an abandoned suitcase in Grand Central Terminal while on her way to work. In it, she finds a dozen photographs which she impulsively takes. The women in the photographs were secret agents sent behind enemy lines, and Grace searches for their fates. Bestseller. 2019.

Download The Lost Girls of Paris, DB 94677

Madame Fourcade’s Secret War: The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler

by Lynne Olson

DB 107173, Available as BARD Download

The author of Last Hope Island (DB 88310) provides an account of the work of Marie-Madeleine Fourcade, who–under the code name Hedgehog–led the largest World War II-era spy network in occupied France. Discusses the many difficulties her spies faced and the crucial intelligence they supplied. 2019.

Download Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, DB 94444

Queen of Spies

by Daphne Park

DB 86548, Available as BARD Download

A recounting of the evolution of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) from World War II until the Cold War as seen through the life of Daphne Park, one of its most unusual and highest-ranking agents. Discusses how Park was able to rise through the ranks of a predominantly male field. 2015.

Download Queen of Spies, DB 86548

Red Sparrow

by Jason Matthews

DB 77102, Available as BARD Download

CIA operative Nathaniel Nash loses his Moscow post after narrowly escaping from a meeting with an important source. New Russian intelligence agent Dominika Egorova is assigned to seduce Nash and identify his contact. Violence, some strong language, and some explicit descriptions of sex. 2013.

Download Red Sparrow, DB 77102


by William Boyd

DB 65076, Available as BARD Download

England, 1976. Fearing for her life, Sally Gilmartin reveals her true identity as Eva Delectorskaya, a WWII British spy, to her adult daughter, Ruth. As Ruth pieces together the past, her mother asks for help with one final mission. Some explicit descriptions of sex and some strong language. 2006.

Download Restless, DB 65076

Sisterhood of Spies: The Women of the OSS

by Elizabeth P. McIntosh

DB 47558, Available as BARD Download

During World War II the author, a war reporter, was recruited by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS)–later the CIA–to work in the propaganda division. She describes other female operatives, some of whom were spies with hair-raising duties behind enemy lines. Concludes with the role women play in intelligence, including uncovering the Soviet mole Aldrich Ames. 1998.

Download Sisterhood of Spies, DB 47558

Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, a Union Agent in the Heart of the Confederacy

by Elizabeth Varon

DB 60026, Available as BARD Download

Scholar’s biography of Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew (1818-1900), whose Virginia roots conflicted with her strong antislavery beliefs. Drawing on her diaries and other historical sources, chronicles her contributions to the Union cause: comforting and sneaking messages to northern prisoners, aiding and sheltering escapees, providing intelligence, and assisting emancipation efforts. 2003.

Download Southern Lady, Yankee Spy, DB 60026

The Spy Who Loved: The Secrets and Lives of Christine Granville

by Clare Mulley

DB 77203, Available as BARD Download

Examination of the life of Christine Granville, née Krystyna Skarbek (1908-1952), a spy for Britain’s Special Operations Executive during World War II. Details her early years in Poland, operations she ran, and her many lovers–one of whom murdered her. Some violence. 2012.

Download The Spy Who Loved, DB 77203


by Simon Mawer

DBC 253, Available as BARD Download

At the age of 19, fluent-French-speaking Briton Marian Sutro is recruited for service in the Special Operations Executive during World War II, only to find that another secret organization wants her to infiltrate Paris to persuade a research physicist to join the Allied war effort. Some violence, strong language, and some explicit descriptions of sex. 2012.

Download Trapeze, DBC 253

A Very Dangerous Woman: The Lives, Loves, and Lies of Russia’s Most Seductive Spy

by Deborah McDonald

DB 82591, Available as BARD Download

Russian aristocrat Baroness Moura Budberg began a passionate affair with British diplomat and secret agent Robert Bruce Lockhart in the early twentieth century, even while spying on him for the Bolsheviks. The authors recount Moura’s attempts to save Lockhart and her continued espionage after later fleeing to England. Some descriptions of sex. 2015.

Download A Very Dangerous Woman, DB 82591

A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win WWII

by Sonia Purnell

DB 95178, Available as BARD Download

An account of the efforts of Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite and American spy who established spy networks throughout World War II France, ultimately escaping through the Pyrenees into Spain after her cover was blown. Written by the author of Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill (DB 88505). Bestseller. 2019.

Download A Woman of No Importance, DB 95178

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